Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS:WONDER WOMAN! THE DEVILS TRAIL! UNCANNY X-FORCE! RYDER ON THE STORM! & MORE! + Bug's going to NYCC, are you?

Published at: Oct. 6, 2010, 9:09 a.m. CST

#19 9/29/10 #9

Hey folks, it’s your pal, Ambush Bug here. We’ve got a mess of reviews this week for you all to enjoy, but before you scroll down I just wanted to let you all know that I’ll be at this year’s NEW YORK COMIC CON! Having just wrapped up my 20 interviews and columns dedicated to this year’s SAN DIEGO COMIC CON, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I’ll be gathering some more cool stuff from the con to be at on the east coast, which looks to be pretty fantastic. So if you’re a creator or publisher and want me to stop by your booth or if you’re just a fan wanting to gab comics among the masses, drop me a line and I’ll try to track you down. And if you can’t go, fear not. I’ll bring back a whole lotta goodness to report on here in future columns.
And now, on with the reviews…

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) WONDER WOMAN #603 X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS – X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES #1 THE DEVIL’S TRAIL #1 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #644 ACTION COMICS #893 YI SOON SHIN: WARRIOR AND DEFENDER #1 & 2 UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 LADY MECHANIKA #0 STAR-SPANGLED WAR STORIES: MADAMOISELLE MARIE #1 POWERS #6 RYDER ON THE STORM #1 CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT #2 THE WALKING DEAD #77 Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents 7 BILLION NEEDLES Vol.1

WONDER WOMAN #603

J. Michael Straczynski: Writer Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica & Allan Goldman: Artists DC Comics: Publisher Vroom Socko: Wondering...

The new direction on WONDER WOMAN initiated by JMS, the dreaded reboot, is one of the most extreme in recent memory. It's also one that, for reasons known only to the creative team, removes every single iconic element from Wonder Woman's character. Paradise Island, the costume, her status as the personification of Truth, all gone. Now, Wonder Woman has been many things over the years: a symbol of feminism, a character study of the dichotomy of the warrior who stands for peace, an argument in favor of light bondage, and perhaps most memorably under George Pérez, a “Stranger in a Strange Land”. So, while this massive alteration of the character is jarring to say the least, there's no reason to think that this story won't end up a rousing success.
Except...
The narrative has the most schizophrenic pacing I've ever seen in a comic. The centerpiece of this issue is eight pages set in the Underworld, aka Hell. Anyone else would have made an entire issue out of this moment, but JMS is keeping this story very fast paced. Unfortunately, the three credited pencillers(!) seem to delight in using six pages to tell an action scene when it would be more effective to use four. This places the rhythm of the comic at odds with itself, with a framework that is neither traditional nor decompressed, yet tries to be both. Still, with a strong plot this deficiency could be overlooked, and we could still have a good comic on our hands.
Except...
The story so far has been an absolute mess. This new Wonder Woman was presented to us as an urban, modern character, yet we've spent the past two issues in Turkey, a trip made on the flimsiest of narrative coincidences. The main storyline of this issue has Diana being killed, then attempting to escape the Underworld. The Hero travelling to the Land of the Dead and returning is, of course, a staple of Greek myth, done often as a form of penance, a quest for lost knowledge, and ultimately as an acknowledgement of the hero's mortality. Here, it's done for the sake of three pages of exposition about how Hades has abandoned his realm. Since it happened simultaneously to Aphrodite's abandonment of the Amazons in the first issue, it doesn't take a genius to see where this is going. (I do find it odd that the Goddess of Love is somehow the patron of the Amazons, when that role has traditionally belonged to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Combat.) But still, all this could still lead to a decent story as long as the characters are strong and relatable.
Except...
This new Wonder Woman seems to be only one thing: an angry killer. Three issues and a prologue into this story, and all we've seen her do is listen to exposition, be angry at the Gods for abandoning her, and kill people. We have lost a unique sister figure, an ambassador of peace, an icon of virtue and truth, and in her place stands a thug. If there was a hint, an inkling that there was more to this character than death and vengeance, this new take might be worth following further. Unfortunately, all we have so far is a total blank slate. There is nothing to this Wonder Woman that makes her stand out AS Wonder Woman. And that's boring. As it stands, it would take an exceptional idea behind this book to make it worth reading, and even then it would be as the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.
Except...
At the three issue mark, what is this book really about? Its thematic focus has been simple: a large group of powerful men have been, for three issues, slaughtering women. Bloodily. Now, I don't know the specifics of JMS' thoughts on gender relations, and I DO know that the motives of a fictional character or group have nothing to do with the belief system of their creator. But the mood of this comic, of its savage violence against women, is disturbing, grotesque, and offensive. And there are no longer any rationalizations for continuing to read it.
I'm not against changing the direction of a title, or shaking up a character, not even one as iconic as Wonder Woman. But an uneven story with a one-dimensional protagonist filled with weak plotting and heavy handed violence against women is not a bold new direction. It's just a shit comic.
Vroom Socko, aka Aaron Button, lives in Portland, Oregon. MIDNIGHT NATION and RISING STARS are two of his favorite comics, so he doesn't have an inherent bias against JMS. He wants that on the record.

X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS – X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES #1

Writer: James Asmus, Christopher Sequeira, Peter David, Rob Williams, Chris Claremont Artist: Tom Raney, Sana Takeda, Mick Bertilorenzi, Doug Braithwaite, Bill Sienkiewicz Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Lyzard

If anyone has been following my reviews, they may have noticed a commonality between some of them. That similarity is vampires. I love vampires. Not the sparkly pushovers in “Twilight”, or the whining Louis from “Interview with the Vampire”, but the monstrous type. I’m talking Bill Paxton in “Near Dark” vicious. So when I saw X-MEN VS VAMPIRES, despite not having kept up with the series in years, I just had to read it.
X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS – X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES #1 is actually several stories, not related except for the fact that they all contain vampires. The first, FROM HUSK TIL DAWN, features an X-Man I was not familiar with searching for her friend Jubilee. Then there is I’M GONNA STAKE YOU, SUCKA, which follows Dazzler as she hunts a serial killing vampire. RUE BLOOD is a bit complicated to explain without spoiling it, so we move on now to SURVIVORS where Magneto runs into an old friend he never thought he’d see again. Then there is the real treat of the book, all the way from July 1982 we have THE UNCANNY X-MEN # 159’s NIGHT SCREAMS! Storm is attacked by an unknown assailant and soon grows ill. Because the comic reveals to you who this attacker is on the first page of this particular story, I shall too. It is none other than the Prince of Darkness himself: Dracula.
When I first opened the comic, I thought that one of the vampires was a favorite X-Man of mine: Gambit. He had red eyes and spoke French. This turned out to be wrong, but if you do have a character in your universe that is known for these two things, I would avoid having another character with the same attributes. Also, keep the continuity. In FROM HUSK TIL DAWN, the vampires’ eyes are first white, then red. It is possible that the eyes go red upon their growing angry, but there were only two panels with this inconsistency.
Speaking of consistency, all of the stories drew the vampires in essentially the same way. All just had fangs (no “vamped out” faces like in LOST BOYS or Buffy), and with the exception of RUE BLOOD, the vampires shared the glowing eye trait. But the art style to each story was very different. I personally preferred from HUSK TIL DAWN because it is the look I have grown up with, pertaining to X-MEN comics and then SURVIVORS, which felt more like staring at a painting. RUE BLOOD was the only one where I disliked the look; the action was difficult to follow and it was over stylized. It did, however, contain a TRUE BLOOD joke. Anyone who knows the main actress in “True Blood” will get the connection.
My favorite tale, story-wise, was also SURVIVORS. It’s very dark but also esoteric, not to the point of being above an average reader’s head, but it does make you think. It was also nice to see Logan/Wolverine in the 80s UNCANNY X-MEN. As soon as he can, he goes for a brew. It’s nice to see that the movies got some things right.
I think for the first time since I started this gig, I finally found a comic that I truly enjoyed throughout. Sure, “Rue Blood” was confusing to me, but it was one weak link amongst five stories. I’M GONNA STAKE YOU, SUCKA reminded me of the world in “Kindred: the Embraced” and not just because both are set in San Francisco. Overall, it was great to see this large team of writers and artists show different visions of vampires in the X-Men universe. I can’t wait for #2, which will also conclude the story NIGHT SCREAMS!
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).

THE DEVIL’S TRAIL #1

Writer: Stephen Lindsay Artist: Jim McMunn Publisher: Creator's Edge Reviewer: Optimous Douche

White hats and black hats…a tale as old as…well, the Old West…or at the very least…”Bonanza”. Logic tells us that the real Old West was probably a filth pit where nothing would stay white for very long, and I’m not just talking about Stetsons. It was a land that was so seemingly vast and endless that the governors of our modern society like Police, NSA, stoplight cameras…basically all the things that keep us civil simply didn’t exist. Writer Stephen Lindsay recognizes that this trope of being able to identify an individual by their clothes is just that…a trope…a convention for the masses…life is simply never as simple as black and white. Sometimes good people have to do bad things in the name of justice!
THE DEVIL’S TRAIL may be set in the Old West and borrows on many conventions therein, but this is a whole new fresh approach, at least it is for this intrepid comic reporter. Lindsay takes a more spiritual approach to this time period by making the white hat a man searching for not just evil, but rather the pure embodiment of evil, a “man” named Jericho. Likewise our white hat relies less on guns and gumption, more by instead packing a hefty arsenal of crucifixes, holy-water grenades and…well…yeah, he does have his fair share of gumption.
See, instead of being faced with hornswagglers and filthy cattle rustlers our intrepid hero must fight undead demons as he traverses the barren devil’s trail in search of Jericho. As we all know, a crucifix is far more powerful than a six shooter when confronted with demons. A lazier reviewer might say this book is the WALKING DEAD meets “Tombstone”, merely pushing together two settings for the purpose of a tidy pull quote. That approach not only does a disservice to this book, but the books it is being compared to. In the world of “high concepts” there are no easy fits. If I had to liken this to another piece the vibe I got was far more akin to Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series than anything else.
My two favorite moments were when our white hat comes across a seemingly abandoned farm house where a sweet little girl is left to care for her possessed Mother. The mother goes all demon-crazy bat-shit and our white hat puts her down accordingly. What we are left with is the juxtaposition of innocence and a man trying to preserve innocence for the world. Our white hat takes the girl along with him and continues after Jericho. My other favorite moment was when our Black Hat Jericho stumbles into a one horse town to convert the citizens into demons. Jericho is simply cool. He doesn’t embody the stereotypes of evil, this fucker is just simply evil. I don’t want to ruin things, so I’ll leave it at this was one of the sharpest moments of the book.
Now for the art…as much as I loved the actual story, I just could not get into the art style. But this is a personal choice. It’s not that it was sloppy; McMunn knows what he’s doing from a layout and story flow perspective. It’s simply that his style is a little too Spartan for my taste. Some folks really dig the minimalist approach and I don’t fault them for that. But I have suckled from the teat of early 90s over-produced material and I will always carry that sweet (or sour depending on your viewpoint) nectar within my marrow. I don’t like gratuitous splash pages and poses, but I want my purpose driven panels to be rich with detail. Again though, that’s just me.
So, all-in-all THE DEVIL’S TRAIL is a grand read with rich undertones, but again the art left me wondering just how gruesome things could get with a different style.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #644

Writer: Mark Waid Art: Paul Azaceta Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Survival of the Fairly Alright…
“Origin of the Species” turns out to be an alright issue, which is incredibly surprising. The story has been lacking overall so far, but it's nice to see a fairly enjoyable issue of this arc.
Writing (3/5): Mark Waid steps up from the last few issues and turns out a fairly good one here. Waid adds a lot of nice touches that were absent from the earlier parts of this story like Doctor Octopus making his own Spider Tracers (in the shape of an octopus). It’s inspired and something I'm surprised I haven't seen before. The dialogue in this sequence isn't fantastic, but seems hammy to me. The Rhino scene is also well done, with the confrontation between the two playing well. Rhino sparing the child is a nice touch, and well appreciated. The scenes not focused on Peter or his villains slow down the pace severely, however. Primarily in the apartment of MJ’s friend, the scene just falls flat. It lacks character and just feels by the numbers (friend is angry, MJ references some past transgression, friend helps). The end of the issue, however, is good. I really enjoy the little twist even though it'll resolve itself quickly, I expect.
Art (2/5): Paul Azaceta's art style isn't my fancy, but it does have some nice moments here and there. Azaceta still doesn't do faces that sit well with me. They come off as off-putting, especially Harry as he leaves Menace with MJ. But to his credit, the action sequences are well done. A standout is the arrival of Rhino on the scene, which plays out well. The Carlie sequence with Tombstone, on the other hand, falters about. With too many weird faces, and awkward poses like Carlie showing off her badge, the scene doesn't translate well. The demon baby by Mysterio isn't good at all to be honest, but it's not as bad as Harry's face at the end of the issue. Those just aren't looks the human face should be able to make.
Best Moment: The Rhino confrontation. It follows up on my favorite “Gauntlet” story, and sets up another fight down the road. Fantastic.
Worst Moment: Harry's face. Gaah!
Overall (3/5): The issue, while still not great, has improved steadily on last issue. Hopefully this trend continues.

ACTION COMICS #893

Writer: Paul Cornell & Nick Spencer Art: Sean Chen & R.B. Silva Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: KletusCasady

What happened to the days of a good villain? I don’t mean the guy that shows up for two issues, arrives with some asinine plan then gets defeated and put back in jail time and time again. I’m talking about a villain that’s feared & relentless in their pursuit of what they feel they are owed or a villain so steadfast in their resolve that the hero has lost before they started but is forced to play catch up/cleanup. I’m talking about Doom circa 1980’s, Darkseid in the 70’s, Apocalypse in the 90’s. I just don’t feel as though villains are really that feared or respected these days. I know Brightest Day/Heroic Age is supposed to be the return of the “hero” but what about the villains? Where do they stand in all this? I would venture to say that a superhero, much like a college football team, is measured by the strength of their adversary, and these days we don’t really see villains the way we used to. Mostly what we are privy to are heroes dealing with their own problems via some self destructive path they’ve lead themselves down, but the villains--the people heroes should fear--are nowhere to be found. Leading me to a strange idea that’s happening now…a superhero’s book taken over by his greatest foe. I’m talking about ACTION COMICS starring none other than Lex “my appearance changes on a weekly basis” Luthor.
I’ve always thought of Lex Luthor as a badass almost like Batman in a way, where he’d have contingency plan upon contingency plan to escape nearly everything Superman could do to take him down, leaving Supes with no evidence of any wrong doing by Lex. This is the first issue of ACTION COMICS I’ve bothered to pick up and read since the Lex takeover but with artwork from Sean Chen I couldn’t resist. He’s definitely one of DC’s top 5 artists but it seems (much like Jimmy Cheung over at Marvel) that he doesn’t seem to get that much work and I wonder why. His art is great, the page itself just looks really clean, there’s no clutter, there’s no extraneous lines everywhere and every character looks good. I wish he was permanently on this title. I don’t have anything against Pete Woods and I do think his artwork has drastically improved since the disaster which was AMAZONS ATTACK (WORLD OF KRYPTON didn’t look too bad) but I still can’t get into it; too many weird squiggly lines and he’s another artist that makes everyone look like they’re in dire need of some Dulcalax.
I’m an art first, story second kind of guy which I why I decided to buy this issue but with my man Paul Cornell (CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI13) writing, I know I was in for a good story as well. I’m pretty sure Gorilla Grodd is one of those villains people see and kind of roll their eyes at but Cornell does a great job of making him pretty menacing and smart; the only thing…Lex is tad bit ahead of the game, which is exactly where he should be. This issue is great because not only are the villains acting as such but they’re written in such a way that either one of these guys could have come out on top, not to mention both seem equally as vicious as the other. Gorilla Grodd is crazy as shit in this comic and I don’t think I’ve seen him like this possibly ever and I don’t think I’ve seen Lex this cunning in a really long time. Even though this issue is written in serious tone there are some laugh out loud funny moments in this book. When Grodd first confronts Lex in the jungle, the talk Luthor has with his employee “four weeks ago” and what that means to the overall story (you’ll see what I mean if you read it), Grodd eating…Lex’s…well I’ll just stop there for now. This is villains being villains and it’s great.
This issue has a welcomed mix of humor, evil and conniving villains trying to one up another and it seems as though that may have been the case with the previous issues as well. I think this issue will probably stand above those issues simply because of Sean Chen’s beautiful art. I won’t gush too much but I’ll say he’s in my top ten favorite artists working right now. The covers for this series have been spectacular and I’m kind of bummed Finch isn’t at Marvel anymore but I’m really enjoying his take on DC’s cast. I am kind of skeptical on his upcoming Batman book for some reason but that’s another story. This issue is definitely worth the cover price and my only complaint is that Sean Chen probably won’t be doing the next issue thus putting it in the back burner next to my plans to go to grad school. I didn’t read the back up feature (almost never do), because it had to do with one of the most annoying characters of any universe in Jimmy “how am I still 16” Olsen. If you miss the good old days of bad guys being smart, savvy and evil, check this issue out.

YI SOON SHIN: WARRIOR AND DEFENDER #1 & #2

Writer: Onrie Kompan Artist: Giovanni Timpano Find out more on this book here. Released October 2010 Reviewer: Jinxo

Well, I have to say this comic is well outside my normal wheelhouse. I'm mostly a hero-book type. YI SOON SHIN is actually a historical action adventure book. Not sure I've ever read a true historical comic. It was a stretch but an interesting and pretty entertaining one.
The book tells the story of an actual figure from Korean history in the 1500's. At the time the Korean Navy was a bit of a mess with four different fleets who did not coordinate their efforts. That's not so good when, say, a well organized Japanese Navy invasion fleet shows up. While others in the Korean Navy are busy shouting, "Run away!" or "We're all gonna die!!!" or are just at a loss, Yi Soon Shin is the one guy to step up and say, "Okay, here's how were going to kick their asses!" And ass kick he does.
I found this a fascinating read on several levels. First off, this is history I don't know. It is interesting dipping a toe into a whole other culture. What do I know from Korean history? But, make no mistake, it's action packed history. Looking for bloody battles? Here ya go. Massive fleets of warships, swords, guns, cannons? Yes! A smart alecky dog sidekick who makes snarky asides on the action? NO! You have come to the wrong comic.
I do have to say, though, that this book did give me a similar feeling to the one I had watching Oliver Stone's JFK. It is based on a true historical story but it is also an adventure comic written with Yi Soon Shin as the clear heroic figure. And not saying he wasn't. But what I am saying is that like JFK it's history filtered through the entertainment medium. Even as I was enjoying the read, I was constantly wondering, how accurate is this to what actually happened? How much is changed just due to the legend growing in the intervening years? How much has been changed by the author in the name of making it a better yarn or to make Yi Soon Shin more heroic? For me having these questions in my head isn't a bad thing but part of the fun. Sort of a mental game of liars’ poker between the reader and the writer. You're reading something and enjoying it but then weighing it juuust a bit. Example. Issue #2 starts with a Japanese general berating one of his underlings and then accepting his underling's apology... with a kiss. Fully fictional book you just go, okay. Here I have to ask, is this general a true historical figure or an invention for the story? If he is real, was he really gay? How much of what I am reading is really based on a true story and how much of it is based on a true story the way the movie FARGO was?
The art is pretty outstanding too. Looking at it I almost missed the forest for the trees. As a reviewer I will go back to look closely at the art. I found myself looking so close at how the facial expressions were drawn and the like, smaller details, when I suddenly realized I was an idiot because I was idiotically missing the BIG picture. The massive amount of intricately designed ships, fortresses and uniforms that fill the book is truly impressive. It's a damn good looking book.
It is interesting that this book is an indy book. Mad props to the crew working on it because they're clearly putting their blood and sweat into this series (in addition to the blood and sweat drawn on the pages). It's interesting that an indie film usually means small scale due to a low budget. But an indie comic, wow, it can go epically big. This is a really really indie book so you may have to look for it or ask for it at your local shop. You can also check out some of what these guy are up to at their website.
Jinxo is Thom Holbrook, lifelong comic book reader, and the evil genius behind poobala.com. He may appear cute and cuddly but if encountered avoid eye contact and DO NOT attempt to feed.

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1

Writer: Rick Remender Art: Jerome Opena Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Johnny Destructo

"No jovial sense of adventure. No camaraderie. To overcome the tension. This is NOT the X-Men."
I must confess, I got halfway through the first issue of the last X-FORCE series, before deciding that it's not at all what I wanted from my merry band of mutants. Being proactive: fine. Taking the fight directly to the bad guys: great. Murdering every single mother-lover in the room for no good reason: blarp. It just felt like a bunch of assholes running around getting their stab on. Also, I kinda hated Clayton Crain on that book for some reason. Just felt over-done, I guess. This one's feeling different though. The smaller team really helps. Cut down to just Wolverine, Phantomex (from Grant Morrison's NEW X-MEN run), Psylocke, Archangel (or Angel, depending on what panel you're referencing) and the only other mutant with as much over-exposure as Logan: Deadpool. This feels like a pretty slim but effective team.
Conspicuously missing from this roster is former team leader Cyclops. Having recently officially disbanded the X-Force team, he has no idea that these cats in black and gray are still running around playing pin-cushion with people's innards. Which is for the best, I think. It never sat right with me that Cyke would allow such a team to run amok. I realize he's the new, improved, douchey-er Cyclops, but still.
THIS feels like where Wolverine should be. Logan playing nice on both THE AVENGERS and THE NEW AVENGERS feels about as natural as him playing sassy tunes with Archie & The Riverdales, wearing Prince's assless yellow chaps. Yeah, you know the ones, naughty boy. It's just plain silly-town. But he's at home here. I'm also glad to see Phantomex, who I loved back when Morrison created him. This dude just has so many interesting character traits! He has a symbiotic nano-technology relationship with E.V.A, is literally unable to believe in a higher being, his mask has "telepathy blocking ceramics"? Huh? Sure, why not? He is British, but pretends to be French, just 'cause? Go with it! I hope Remender really gets to play with this character; I'm looking forward to more.
Artist Jerome Opena does an absolutely fantastic job with this book. He has a bit of a David Finch thing going on without being over-bearing. He uses a variety of camera angles and keeps it in motion for a dynamic, fluid feel. Dean White's colors bring it to a whole other level, as well, painting each scene a different hue, sometimes with an aggressive saturation level. It's beautiful.
This is a pretty fun book and features an old nemesis in a different form. I never really cared about him/her before, but this looks promising! Check it out, it's definitely worth your $$.
Quick side-note: If you haven't read the 3 issue mini-series X-FORCE: SEX & VIOLENCE, get ON it. That was the best thing I've read with an X on it since “Second Coming”!
JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here.

LADY MECHANIKA #0

Writer / Art: Joe Benitez Publisher: Aspen Comics Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

Joe Benitez is back and ready to prove he’s still Top Cow with an intriguing steampunk series titled LADY MECHANIKA. A lot of fanboys don’t get the appeal of steampunk and that’s kind of a deal breaker here because this is it in earnest. If you’ve never fantasized about Laura Ingalls growing cybernetic quills and shooting them into Nelly Olsen’s ass, then this book probably isn’t for you. For those of you who choose to hang around until the end credits, you’re likely to find LADY MECHANIKA a mixed bag.
As with any creator-owned property, you have to take the bad with the good – and I use the term “bad” very loosely here as Benitez has been around the block and clearly knows what he’s doing. What might be bad for him is still better than a lot of the crap littering our shelves every Wednesday and I can honestly say there wasn’t anything here I found to be reprehensible. My major gripe is that Benitez creates a fresh and interesting character – and then fails to do anything fresh and interesting with her. But don’t worry, half the time you won’t even notice because Benitez has made her so friggin’ hot.
LADY MECHANIKA was plucked from an abandoned laboratory after having her limbs removed and replaced with mechanical parts. With no memory of who she is or why she has an iron pussy, she decides to spend her days as a paranormal investigator circa late 1800’s. Imagine if Doug Quaid put on a top hat and said “Fuck Mars, I’m going to work for those plumbers at TAPS” and you kind of get the idea. Issue #0 has her chasing “The Demon of Satan’s Alley,” which turns out to be a curious little goblin who speaks perfect English and just so happens to know bits and pieces of her sordid past. Too bad he eats a bullet from a local yokel before he can dish and wouldn’t you know all hell breaks loose when the town posse tries to detain her. Would it surprise you to learn she is a highly skilled fighter? Or that a mysterious bad guy wants to use her powers for his own evil scheme? Of course it wouldn’t, and I think that as the reader, that was a bit of a disappointment.
From a technical perspective, it’s well executed. Unfortunately it just isn’t that interesting. She’s got no memory, she works as a paranormal investigator and above all else, she’s a strong, independent woman who can kick the shit out of you. She’s basically a T-1000 with amnesia in a flounced petticoat. I just wasn’t feeling it and the strong heroine thing has been done to death. There are just no surprises here. Amateurish? No. Paint-by-numbers? I could make that argument.
Having said that, the artwork here is a perfect 10. It’s good when an artist understands his subject, but it’s even better when an artist loves it, and Benitez loves steampunk. LADY MECHANIKA looks like it was comprised of photos from old newspapers or family albums and then given the wash and hot wax with Adobe Illustrator. I just can’t say enough goods things about how well Benitez captures the feel of the steampunk universe and the Lady herself is comparable to any of the industry’s top heroines. She’s that hawt.
Would I recommend this book? I would. The artwork alone makes it worth checking out and like I said earlier, the story wasn’t doing anything for me, but it’s technically competent and I think that’s important to note as a reviewer. My inability to become immersed in the story may have more to do with personal taste than the author’s failure to deliver the goods. Also keep in mind that this is issue #0 and what you see isn’t always what you get once the book shifts into second gear. Pasty says give this one a look and decide for yourself.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.

STAR-SPANGLED WAR STORIES: MADAMOISELLE MARIE #1

Writer: William Tucci Art: Justiniano, Justin Derenick, Andrew Magnum, & Tom Chu Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Majin Fu

My dad is in the army, and his dad before him was in the war, so I grew up listening to war stories. However, with the exception of a few Unknown Soldier back-issues, as well as following the current series from issue 1, my exposure to war stories in the form of comics has been limited. So when I saw this on the stands, I thought I’d pick it up and give it a try.
Mademoiselle Marie first appeared in Star-Spangled War Stories way back in 1959, and was notable for being the love interest of Sgt. Rock (thanks Wikipedia). But Mademoiselle Marie is not just one woman, as the name is really a title, given to the best and brightest, and the most dangerous, tasked with protecting France at various points in history. I have had the luck of discovering some of Marie’s old adventures, and I gotta say they were pretty fun. Even with the goofy French phonetics, Marie was a cool character that added some sex appeal to an otherwise dark chapter of Europe, as well as playing a key role in several top-secret missions.
The plot here involves Marie dropping behind enemy lines to help a few French resisters destroy a German railroad. Simple enough right?
Unfortunately, this is not a very good comic. The plotting and pacing are very poor, causing the comic to drag at one point and sputter the next. There are also a few key moments that could have used a proper transition, but instead, it just reads like there’s a page missing. The flow in this comic is severely screwed. Moments that are supposed to be shocking read as merely jarring, primarily because the story skips ahead suddenly without much explanation. Also, the big twist when traitor reveals themselves is projected fairly obviously early on, so it’s not surprising in the least when it is finally revealed.
Furthermore, while Marie should be the strong female protagonist, she comes across as a bit of a sloppy operative. You can imagine how disappointing this is, since she’s the main character. Her personality lacks consistency, and she’s kind of a jerk at first, making her less sympathetic.
The art doesn’t fare much better, but it’s still an improvement over the plot. Every page is rich with detail, and the coloring is appropriate to the book’s tone. However, when Marie first appears in a mini-skirt and knee high boots after paratrooping behind enemy lines, it just looks silly. Her original introduction was much better. Also, between the three main members of the art team, you think someone would have commented on how eerily formfitting her turtleneck looks. You can’t usually see the outline of someone’s navel while they are wearing a sweater, but here you can. There is also a point six pages in (not counting ads) that looks really awkward, where the French resistance leader, Maquis leads Marie into a room by the hand. If he is reaching down to hold her hand then why is she bending her elbow up? It doesn’t make sense if they are standing on the same plane.
To top it off, this issue is priced at four dollars. Normally, DC’s feeble attempts to justify taking more of your money consist of squishing a preview into the back, which they also cram into every other comic they price at four bucks. This issue is different. There are no bonus materials whatsoever, just 22 mediocre pages.
While Marie’s first mission in Star Spangled War Stories #84 is an impressive romp with a thrilling story and a delightfully efficient lead, this new comic is lacking a lot of the soul inherent to that work. Even the onomatopoeias come across as dull. If you are looking for a good war story set in Europe, I suggest you look for those Sgt. Rock rereleases that came out last month. It’s a shame, because Mademoiselle is a fun character with lots of potential for exciting missions spanning across several timelines. This is not one of those tales.

POWERS #6

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Avon Oeming Publisher: Marvel Icon Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Bendis: the man has become a verb, and with that lofty status is the inevitable profile that never leaves the comic fanbase in emotional limbo. On one side you have the vitriolic debasing of his work with well crafted phrases that would make crack whores blush with girlish embarrassment. On the other side is the barbaric yalp of his fervent defenders, sounding out a cacophony of platitudes that ooze across the page like a WWII Dear John letter (pssssttt…he’s never going to write you back – even if you give your smileys a blowjob face with a cum trail :-0… ). These days if I were to liken this chastising to an 18th century duel between two fancy-men, the slap gloves of choice would be ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and AVENGERS.
Week after week after week the griping saturates the intertubes: “Bendis raped my cat’s soul with AVENGERS.” “Fuck you ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN FTW!” “AVENGERS resurrected my cat’s soul just so it could come back and rape my dog’s soul!” “Mephisto mefisted regular Spider-Man…ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN FTW!” And all of this is just recently, knowing that my Mother reads this column it wouldn’t be proper to bring out the discussions from M-DAY and SECRET INVASION.
It’s funny how passion works though, because the arguments always seem to be less about Bendis as a writer, but more so the direction he takes characters. “I don’t like my super heroes sitting around talking.” Fair enough, but let’s be honest, I have yet to see any issue that all takes place around a kitchen table. “I don’t like the team line-ups,” again a fair statement, but should that spite be directed at Bendis or at Marvel as a whole? Marvel is a corporation, people, and while I’m sure Bendis is a powerful force within its hallowed halls I’ll bet my copy of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN 1 that Bendis does not determine the lineup in a vacuum. Before you read one line further, ask yourself if you have ever chortled at a Bendis dialogue bubble or ever once been swept away by the dark tones and cynical underpinnings of titles like ALIAS. If the answer is no, thank you for reading and enjoy the next review. However, if the answer is yes, then despite your misgivings on Bendis’ “in canon” Marvel properties, you might just enjoy POWERS. Now, if you’ve read POWERS, but left for reasons like the fact it had a delivery schedule that only seemed to coincide with Lindsay Lohan’s sobriety, or you were put off by the monkey fucking arc, I will say with certainty that now is the time to return.
The best premises are always based in simplicity. Take a well established genre…the hardnosed detective story…infuse it with some supernatural human beings…and top it all off with the icing of an inciting event. In the world of POWERS that event was the outlawing the use of powers unless sanctioned by the government. In the hands of other writers such a premise would carry for a few arcs, a few guffaws at superheroes running from police and the series would have petered out before the first recession hit our shores. Bendis doing what he does best, though, made us care equally about the characters in POWERS as much, if not more so, than the world in which they live.
It all started with Walker and Pilgrim, the grizzled veteran and his rookie counterpart investigating the murders of powered individuals. From story to concept Bendis had me hooked immediately. Whether it was actually solving the case or the fantastic interrogations beneath the dimmed fluorescent glow of power inhibitor lights, the story felt more real than any episode of CSI or LAW AND ORDER. What followed was a maturation of these characters. As time went on Pilgrim’s hot headedness was tempered by Walker and then reignited by living in this insane world. Walker has always served as the story’s enigma. Once a power certainly, perhaps an immortal or a construct of the universe…maybe…he has always been the true definition of a hero. Sure he’s had his flaws and some questionable dalliances with fame over time, but in the end he always comes back to a moral center that is far more plausible than the eternal do-goodedness of Clark Kent. There’s doing good and then there’s being a do-gooder; I’ll take the former any day as far as building an interesting character.
So where is POWERS today? Well it’s on a fairly regular publishing schedule for starters with nary a panel of monkey fucking to be found. Walker is still coming to grips with his new Green Lanternesque power ring and also trying to train his undercover, all while trying to save face during his day job so his new partner doesn’t suspect what he’s up to. Good thing, too, since this partner appears to still have ties to internal affairs. Pilgrim has been on the sidelines after her appearance of powers, but makes a turn on the last page of this issue that will thrust her full-force as a power to be reckoned with (at least as far as Walker is concerned). One other great reason to pick up this issue is the start of a new murder investigation; this time it appears immortals can die in the most grisly of manners. Bendis is also whetting our appetites with an exploration of hero morality. How does a hero decide what people are worth saving and when? Should true heroes even make those distinctions? It’s a far more plausible set up than the current meanderings of a certain crestfallen man in blue tights over at DC.
Oeming simply continues to rock the house. I’m usually the first to dump on art that seems “sketched” or let’s say lacking realism. But for some reason I simply adore Oeming’s work. Never mind, I know the reason, even if you hate his style he nails the fundamentals of pacing and emotion. For any book these should be fundamental tenets; for a book like POWERS they are an utmost necessity and Oeming simply delivers year-after-year.
In the end analysis if you have your mind set on hating Bendis, then no words will convince you otherwise. I simply find it fascinating that as a community we praise Stan Lee as if he were the modern-day Jesus when his words deliver more camp than the “Meatballs” movie franchise. If anyone else tried to write like that today they would be shown the door after their first issue. The man was great for his time, but that time has passed and the medium has evolved. You might disagree with this evolution and I’m sorry for your loss of a time that will never return, but time stands still for no one…not even comic collectors. POWERS – get it, read it, love it!

RYDER ON THE STORM #1

Writer: David Hine Art: Wayne Nichols Publisher: Radical Comics Reviewer: Lyzard

At least this comic came with a “mature reader” warning. Though some of you may view this as a form of censorship, I gladly welcome these parental advisories that Marvel and Radical comics include. It prevents me from upchucking my lunch. RYDER ON THE STORM most definitely is for mature readers. Not for sex, but for bloody violence. I’ve noticed that comics don’t take sex as far as they do violence, which seems to be a realm saved for film and HBO. But though the comic made me squeamish and squirm, I still found it fascinating. It’s a rubbernecking comic. One in which despite the horror, you can’t look away.
RYDER ON THE STORM #1 tells the story of Private Investigator Ryder. He is hired by Katrina Petruska, a nightclub singer, whose rich hookup has just killed himself…by power drilling eleven holes into his head. But this is no ordinary case. As Ryder investigates, he finds out that the city’s founding family, the Dantons, may be involved and that they are much more than meets the eye.
RYDER ON THE STORM does not get any points for originality. It’s a neo-noir like BLADE RUNNER, has similar ideas to MALTESE FALCON, and a feel similar to Frank Miller’s SIN CITY (especially THE HARD GOODBYE). It even takes the masquerade scene from Stanley Kubrick’s last film, EYES WIDE SHUT, as a model for the club Lust Garden at which Katrina works. So if you are looking for new ideas, don’t go down this dark alley. It’s predictable what direction the story will go, even if you don’t know your film noir.
That being said, I still enjoyed the comic. Setting it up in the near future, instead of the present, was a nice touch due to the ancient matters that come into play later on in the story. This intersection of the past and future made it a blend of the neo-noir of MINORITY REPORT and the classic noir of DOUBLE INDEMNITY. It has the archetypal characters, such as your PI, femme fatale, annoyed detective, and shadowy antagonist. It also is full of grays. I don’t mean in the color, but in the character’s morals. Each of the characters has a dark side, which in any other comic would make them two-dimensional, but it has become such a trend in noir that the characters still read one-dimensionally.
But that’s okay, what kept me coming back was the art. It was the choice of the artist in when and what not to show that really took me aback. The reveals were intensified by the suspense built through the drawings and even the lettering. The constant RRRRR sound in the apartment, at first seems like it could be the phone, but later we find out it’s actually the drill. I felt this comic was very alive; I could hear the sound of the drill, the whack of fists, the screams of agony even when they weren’t spelled out for me. Again, what to show and not to show. The colorization made the reds (not always just blood) and greens stand out. Everything else was muted. My very problem with neo-noir films is the use of color. I enjoy CHINATOWN because its muteness is the closest you can get to the black and white feel of the traditional noir stories, without going b&w themselves. This comic deals with color in a similar way, but not to the extent of SIN CITY, where, when important, a color is highlighted and heightened.
I know I’m referencing a lot of films, but the layout of the comic was very cinematic. Again, this goes back to the reveals, but there was also parallel editing, where in you have two panels with a similar image, but it’s the differences that matter. This may be blasphemy to comic purists, but the book came off very much like storyboards in their varying angles and focus.
RYDER IN THE STORM #1 is a powerful comic. Though I knew where it was going in nearly every page, it was the experience that I enjoyed. Feeling the pain, hearing the screams, it’s a sensory book that makes one more in tune with ones senses than even some films. If this is your genre, then I highly recommend it, not for it’s story, but for it’s imagery.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT #2 of 4

Writer: Karl Kesel Artist: Mitch Breitweiser Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Jinxo

One of the earliest comics I can remember buying was a special issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA where all the various men who took the name of Captain America were pulled from various points in time to wage battle together. At that point I was flipped out by the idea there had been Captain Americas other than Steve Rogers so I had to check it out (let's pretend I wasn't also fueled by enjoyment of what I now know were HORRIBLE Captain America TV movies. Yikes!) Ever since then I have had a curiosity about those other Caps so, clearly, CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT went right on my pull list. The story of how the non-super powered hero The Patriot ended up stepping up to fill the role of Captain America? I gots ta know!!!
I have also been buying most of the other Marvel retro books that lay out the history of the Marvel Universe back around WWII. One of the things I am enjoying about CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT is the specific point of view. Part of the story with the substitute Caps is always the replacement Cap being down, feeling like an imposter, almost impotent power-wise next to the other heroes. And in something like the MARVELS PROJECT that would come off as a downer. Huge buzz kill. Action and adventure going on and here's the guy who gets to be Captain America going all Droopy Dog saying (and you must read this AS Droopy Dog), "I wish I was good enough...I suck." But this book hits that same element from replacement Cap Jeff Mace's point of view. Somehow kinda being in his shoes makes a difference. You get it. It isn't him sucking and feeling bad for it. It's this regular guy trying to fill the shoes of a legend. He gives it one hundred and ten percent and still is not hitting the mark Steve Rogers set. He comes off not as a whiner who isn't good enough but instead as a regular American trying against all odds to BE Captain America...which really embodies what Captain America at heart should be. And with this ret-conning we also get him willing to do the right thing for a friend even if it isn't the PC thing to do. I think that might be the part of issue 2 that really hit me most. Nice truly heroic moment to have everyone tell him "It would be best if you steered clear of this," and for him basically say, "Yeah...you can stick it. I'll do what I feel is right, thanks."
Also really digging the modern yet retro art by Mitch Breitweiser. The art for sure doesn't look like the hero comics of that era which tended to be much simpler--basic lines and simple coloring. But somehow this is what the comics from back then SHOULD have looked like. You get the feel of the simplicity of art. Instead of looking like a painting as comics can look today it has more of a sketched and rough paint look. And the color scheme seems tweaked slightly yellow to imply the yellowing look of an older comic. I dig it. This isn't the biggest book out now for sure but it's a great bit of revisiting of "forgotten" Marvel history.

THE WALKING DEAD #77

Writer: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn Publisher: Image Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

No stupid jokes here, this issue was just that awesome.
Just...just...fuck. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this issue. I wish I could leave it at that; I should just leave it at that. Nothing I can say is going to make this issue any more enticing then it naturally is. THE WALKING DEAD #77 was one of the most perfect comics I've ever read. The art, the pacing, the dialogue, the ending, everything was fantastic. Kirkman is among the best writers doing comics today, and this issue shows exactly why. And the fact that it's one of the best issues of THE WALKING DEAD ever, a book that has rarely, if ever, had an off issue, just makes it all the better.
Writing (5/5): There's not a single off scene in this book. Carl confronts Rick over his daydreaming/hallucinations of Lori on the phone, and it plays exactly how one would expect it to. Rick explains, hopelessly reaching out for his son to understand. It’s heartbreaking on both sides as Rick desperately clings to the idea of Lori. But it also snaps something in Carl, and it seems the last bits of Carl’s childhood are gone (he can't pretend, even for a second, that he can hear his mum. She's dead, plain and simple).
Andrea's first romantic interest since the death of Dale, like with the Carl confrontation, plays out very similar to how it was expected. Andrea's attempts to be flirty again fail miserably in a very quiet moment between her and her suitor which is a well done look into her mindset after Dale's death.
****SPOILER**** The death of Scott is surprisingly touching. I felt more sympathy for the death of this nondescript red shirt than I've felt for major characters in the past. A beautifully written scene. ****END SPOILER ****
Glenn and Maggie's distancing relationship is patched up, and it's done realistically and brilliantly. Instead of going the usual fiction route of angry make up sex symbolism, the two actually do what most people do. Talk it out. The conclusion to the issue is just....fuck...it’s just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The whole issue, for all its interpersonal looks at the characters, has a real sense of tension building, that climaxes when Peter attacks the group taking care of Scott. The scene is tense, and just explodes into a great turn. Which is followed by a bigger "Holy shit!" Which is then followed by a huge "HOLY SHIT!" The series is swerving around its preferred tropes and is going for new angles on established ideas. Kirkman writes one of his best comics ever here.
Art (5/5): Has Charlie Adlard ever done a bad issue? Ever? There are not enough good words to say about his art. It's striking, clear when it needs to be and shady when it needs to be. The murders at the end especially are absolutely marvelously paneled, with both having deliberate weight on the plot, exuding a sense of urgency.
Best Moment: The ending. Damn.
Worst Moment: I can't think of a single one.
Overall (5/5): This comic deserves the Eisner it won last year so much. And if the series maintains the level it brought with this issue, it'll stay on top.

7 BILLION NEEDLES Vol. 1

By Nobuaki Tadano Released by Vertical, Inc Reviewer: Scott Green

7 BILLLION NEEDLES... maybe it was some failing that I didn't figure it out earlier, but once the title's meaning became evident, it became pretty brilliant.
On a clear night, Hikaru Takabe, an orphaned teen girl with a 10,000 mile stare and headphones nearly constantly affixed to her ears, wanders out of her room on a stroll to the beach. As she wades into the water, the serenity is shattered when a meteorite miraculously changes course to collide with the girl, designating her body. Cut to a school room scene. Hikaru is staring out the window, occasionally giving the ticking clock a glance. She begins experiencing odd stimuli, making her sensory relationship with the world as strained as her social relationship. Then, she begins hearing voices, informing her that she died; that an alien with, well... alien biology, had to bond with her in order to preserve her life. But, Hiraku's symbiot isn't the only extraterrestrial that made its way to Earth. The other is more parasitic, using its host to kill, and kill until it wipes out the population around it, potentially causing mass extinction if left unchecked. Hiraku's alien frames the relationships in another way. Hikaru, must help the police officer alien Horizon locate and apprehend the criminal Maelstrom before the latter begins its assault on humanity.
7 BILLION NEEDLES is based on Golden Age hard sci-fi writer Hal Clement's 1950 novel NEEDLE. That's no secret. It's printed on the back of the book. Saying that a work recalls a classic is another way of saying that its premise is nothing new. Sci-fi from various traditions have had configurations like this one. In manga, there's PARASYTE, about an alien spore that is supposed to bore into the brain of a teenager, but, because the target fell asleep with headphones on, wound up in his hand; and there's BIRDY THE MIGHTY, about a female, intergalactic police offer who accidentally kills a teenage boy when transporting to Earth, then revives him in such a way that they can swap bodies.
Informed by Hal Clement's original, 7 BILLION NEEDLES has its own approach to the material. Reading the manga, I found myself not so much thinking about the other manga that it resembled as I was the novel. Despite significant differences from Clement's, knowing 7 BILLION NEEDLES was an adaptation infected me. The ways in which the manga plays with perception, senses, and connection with alien intelligence are the ways in which sci-fi writing is made interesting. I couldn't stop thinking about how it would work as prose. When Hikaru starts feeling disconnected to her body, or reacts to the grievous damage that bodies takes, I couldn't help but consider how Hikaru's experience would be related in prose.
A few big spectacle shots started to cure me of that mental re-engineering. A bit of bleeding, a person bisected by a clawed kick, some shots of dinosaurs framed by lightning strikes, and I'm thinking more visual driven sci-fi media.
My perception shifted again upon introduction of the turn that Hikaru needed to start talking to her classmates in order to ferrit out who was hosting Maelstrom. Teenage personal issues projected onto a sci-fi struggle…that engagement with the lead's social avoidance finally slapped me into manga-thinking. This is a title from COMIC FLAPPER, that specializes in collecting series that explore subject through female leads, written for male readers (TWIN SPICA, TRANSLUCENT, DANCE IN THE VAMPIRE BUND).
Describing 7 BILLION NEEDLES like this makes it sound like it was built from distinct elements. However, thinking back on what I read, those impressions merged. It blended novel-style concept driven sci-fi, movie style spectacle and manga style approach to teen concerns. And, that multi-media mix of qualities became 7 BILLION NEEDLES’ own strength.
On one hand, 7 BILLION NEEDLES’ manga/science fiction formula is one with the potential to keep its audience mentally, viscerally and emotionally engaged. On the other, it doesn't manage that to the extent that the series becomes one of the more urgently involving that you'll read. Working with a spacey, distant lead can be tricky, but, the barrier really keeping 7 BILLION NEEDLES away from being a hit is that execution in matter such as its illustration are often only as good as they need to be. It becomes noticeable when panels in

Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:13 a.m. CST

    FIRST! CRINGE Before DOOM!

    by V. von Doom

    And good morning to you as well.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:20 a.m. CST

    I don't know...

    by wampa 1

    ...but it sure smells good!

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:25 a.m. CST

    I think I'm about done with comics.

    by Righteous Brother

    I just can't seem to find anything worth reading anymore. I'll still get anything by Alan Moore or Chris Ware though.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Higgens - Rank your Rankings

    by Squashua

    For a proper evaluation of scale, name a comic that is 1/5 for writing, art, and overall. Do same for 2/5 through 5/5.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Good set of reviews, but

    by BlaGyver

    May I make a humble suggestion? One of my favorite things to read each week would be the "Cheap Shots" section. I like reading the quick reviews for issues that aren't necessarily big enough for a full review but interesting enough to warrant the succinct version of the opinion. Some weeks, that section is missing, which is usually a bummer. I don't know what's up the weeks it's missing, whether it be that you guys got busy, didn't find any books you felt like reviewing for the section or what. On those weeks, I think it'd be cool if you dropped a line in the STM collumn requesting that TBers send in Cheap Shot reviews. Again, just a suggestion but it could be cool.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:35 a.m. CST

    RighteousBrother

    by melchior42

    Then you are not reading Walking Dead... <br /><br /> Everything the review said above was spot on. Nothing that occurred was unexpected, simply the culmination of everything that has come before... 77 issues of an intense character study leading to this... <br /><br /> But I'll be damned if the last scenes didn't have my eyes bugging out by the unrestrained awesomeness. I cannot wait until the next arc "No Way Out"

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Is Grodd attacking Lex with a giant spoon?

    by rev_skarekroe

    How very Silver Age.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 9:55 a.m. CST

    Vroom Socko...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...But she's so "urban" and "street" now. And of course, that was the point all along... revamp her into a post-modern character that's TV-ready. What do you wanna bet the TV version will be a street tough, jive-talking black woman? It's the perfect example of corporate-think. "All the kids love this rap stuff... let's make Wonder Woman 'street'." Just as brainless and anti-creative as Jon Peters wanting Superman to wear black leather and fight a giant spider.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 10 a.m. CST

    JMS was soooo wrong for Wonder Woman

    by V'Shael

    JMS claims in many media, that he likes writing strong women and likes strong women in real life. But he has a fucked up view of what strong women are. Look at the ones he writes : Ivanova, for example. She's practically a dude. Her strength is a mans strength. Physical violence type strength. It shows he has NO understanding of what a womans strength looks like.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Luthor has sucked ever since...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...they tied his origin back in with Superboy (or Superman-as-a-teen or whatever the fuck Supes' current origin-of-the-month is) and made him the kuh-razy mad scientist in green, knockoff Iron Man armor again. Byrne's Luthor was the best Luthor.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Luthor

    by wilsonfisk89

    Agree that the Superboy connection is so unbearably lame, but i like the armor/lantern quest. I don't however like this artwork, as it's too clean for Luthor. He looks like a cartoonish Mr. Clean, not a menacing mad genius.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 10:59 a.m. CST

    DOOM

    by Autodidact

    I love Dr Doom. Can't believe what an ass they made of him in the FF movies. What I really want to see is a huge-budget all-CGI version of Secret Wars.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 11:09 a.m. CST

    V'Shael

    by raw_bean

    What you say about Ivanova is true, but that's one example, and a career military woman simultaneously striving for her distant father's approval and trying to live up to her dead older brother, so her 'manliness' suits the character. On the other hand, look at Delenn and tell me JMS can't write strong *feminine* women.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Oi, Vroom, now you've done it...

    by Thalya

    ..you're making me rant-y. But to cut it off at the chase: Wonder Woman, for better or worse, is Comics' Perfect Woman. Not one of the takes you listed deals with that, and it's probably why they all fail.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Optimus

    by Joenathan

    Great Powers review.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 3:14 p.m. CST

    Ben Caldwell is the only one recently

    by Dennis_Moore

    to do justice to Wonder Woman, in "Wednesdays Comics." Just read through his blog and you'll understand:<p>http://purgetheory.blogspot.com/

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 3:16 p.m. CST

    Powers...

    by loodabagel

    Is this a new arc? I've read the first four trades, and I've been looking for another jumping-on point.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 3:31 p.m. CST

    @$$holes, I will make you some cheap shots...

    by loodabagel

    believe me, Holmes. I will send you some cheap shots for every comic I read this week. Print whatever you want.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Why does Ego the Living Planet have a nose?

    by SteadyUP

    http://www.half-assed.com/

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Powers

    by optimous_douche

    Thanks Joen...<p> Lood, this is a great jump on point.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Shoulda kept Simone on WONDER WOMAN...

    by BurnHollywood

    ...If DC wanted to "urban-ize" WW, well, uh...is BIRDS OF PREY urban enough for you? Why a new writer for a new direction? Much as I like JMS, I'm wondering if dumping two of DC's biggest titles in his lap didn't make him either overwhelmed or overly ambitious...this far in, and I've yet to hear anything positive about his SUPES or WW...

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 8:02 p.m. CST

    new WW sucks

    by Hikaru Ichijo

    I don't mind an overhaul, but this crap feels thrown together. The story seems to exist solely for the sake of cartoonish action sequences, and the costume is lame. TV audiences aren't going to respond to this any better than comics fans.

  • Oct. 6, 2010, 8:18 p.m. CST

    One thing I didn't include in my review...

    by vroom socko

    because it felt too nit-picky. But the thing is, Wonder Woman has that stylized W on her bodice, has the more stylized W's on her bracelets, (which A: only cover her forearms, which makes them actually bracers, and B: cause a W to be branded on her opponents on impact. The owners of The Phantom gonna sue somebody...) The thing is, Diana hasn't taken on the name Wonder Woman yet. So why is she wearing the W?

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 2:44 a.m. CST

    Higgins has two instances where he says

    by kungfuhustler84

    "just"...followed by an ellipsis...followed by the word "fuck." He does this twice!<p>Not cool dude, not cool. You need an editor, and how!

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 10:37 a.m. CST

    I quit buying $4.00 comics.

    by teethgnasher

    Now I buy JLA Trophy Room replicas.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Dear Dear Optimous Douche: FUCK YOU, you douche!

    by Big Dumb Ape

    You wrote: "I simply find it fascinating that as a community we praise Stan Lee as if he were the modern-day Jesus when his words deliver more camp than the "Meatballs" movie franchise. If anyone else tried to write like that today they would be shown the door after their first issue. The man was great for his time, but that time has passed and the medium has evolved."<p>First of all, about the only two things that have actually evolved in comics are (1) the quality of paper that comics are printed on and (2) the use of computers behind the scenes for certain production issues, such as lettering and coloring. Oh, and prices have gone up to a near breaking point where its caused people to drop comics, because they can no longer afford to buy into a particular company universe (like the old days) since their money is better spent on other things in life. After all, do you want to collect the X-books or put a down payment on a new car? That said...<p>...Comics are STILL nothing more than words and pictures, and the final test -- the only TRUE barometer -- is the magic that comes when a particular combination genuinely draws a person in and generates an honest emotion from the reading experience. Whether it's feeling your blood racing from reading an adventure comic or laughing or crying over the latest incident in a daily strip.<p>The bottom line: Stan Lee is legendary and "praised" for not only CREATING things that have gone on for generations, but for WRITING some of the all-time greatest tales in the entire history of comics, stories that are STILL being re-told or re-imagined, or frankly hacked out in re-visionist ways by modern day creators who are too lazy to earn a paycheck properly.<p>Do I put Bendis in that category? No, not necessarily. I think the man has talent. But I will say this: his debut on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was fucking SHIT. I mean, seriously, it took the man like 3 issues to essentially retell an origin story that Stan Lee did in 20 pages -- and Lee did it with FAR more emotion and laser-like precision. For fuck's sake, the problem with modern comic writers/artists is that somewhere along the way they became movie fans, and then used that geek interest to get into a masturbatory habit of thinking they were making a movie and not a comic book. Hence the reason you get comics which have that "storyboard" feel where a simple action takes pages and pages to slog through, and in the end it just reads like creators jerking off when they should be telling a STORY with proper focus and pacing. As an example, the bullshit scene of Peter eating at the beginning of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN with french fries and food being tossed at him. In that instance, Bendis jerks off and takes pages to show Peter being picked on...meanwhile Lee could take a simple moment like Flash Thompson sticking his hand into Peter's face as he walks by, add a witty line or two, and convey the same emotion in a BETTER way and in only ONE FUCKING PANEL.<p>Look, if you want to be a raving fan boy and get on your knees and pucker your lips and create a giant sucking sound, to plant your lips squarely on Bendis' ass, that's your business. If you want to collect and read Bendis' work as a comic geek, that's also your business. But DON'T give me this utter fucking bullshit whine about "how the medium has changed" to defend your choice of liking Bendis against someone like Stan Lee, who TRULY gave so much to the medium and to the history of comics. So much so that to this day people even study or write fucking books about it. Taking a cheap shot at Lee to prop up Bendis, who should stand on his own body work, is simply lame and shows you to be a ridiculously childish reviewer. So, grow the fuck up already.<p>Or better yet, get back to me in about 50 years and let me know if anyone is praising cock-stroking writing like that ULTIMATE french fry scene OR if they're still talking about the genius of what Lee (and Ditko) accomplished in a few quick pages. Odds are they'll still be praising Lee, and that will tell you that the medium has actually NEVER EVOLVED, contrary to what you think, and people still respect and admire good story-telling above all else.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Somebody hit an old guy's sore point...

    by Joenathan

    Just so you know... I started snoring loudly about halfway through your temper tantrum, but I'm sure Stan Lee appreciates the defense... nerd...

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Wonder Woman

    by Rommel Catuncan

    I really tried to like the new WW, and I completely agree- I thought it was meant to be urban and modern, but it has gone right back to all the usual mythology. And wondering why Diana has the "W" is not nitpicky- that should be a story point but it is just not explained. I am getting tired of this WW, almost as fast as I am losing interest in Superman's 'Grounded'. But I was ready to like and keep up with both.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 1:44 p.m. CST

    Big Dumb Ape

    by optimous_douche

    How does Lee's stuff sell today? That shit he did over at DC a few years ago reimagining that universe was a fucking snooze and an embarrassment.<p> Why? The medium has evolved you..you..Big Dumb Ape (your words not mine). You actually proved my point by saying that it is far more movie and storyboard oriented these days. Yes, I like the fucking french fries...more money, more panels, more time can go into developing the story.<p> Hey, if you define comics as a one and done panel...bully for you. But sorry, last time I checked, the comic bible wasn't written by Big Dumb Ape. There is no standard definition of what a comic is.<p> Stan Lee was a man ahead of his time and he TRANSFORMED comics from what they were prior. Just as bendis and all the rest of the guys are doing today.<p> Evolve or die old man, because Stan ain't getting any younger and no one..did you hear that...NO ONE...is writing like that anymore.<p> Why is that?<p> If you need me to rewrite this with lots of over explanation and alliteration so it sits better I would be happy to.

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 3:31 p.m. CST

    don't make Stan Lees' great grand-son angry...

    by sonnyhooper

    ....you wouldn't like Stan Lees' great grand-son when he is angry. <p> BIG DUMB APE SMASH PUNY COMIC REVIEWER!!! AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!

  • Oct. 7, 2010, 5:04 p.m. CST

    The first "Nu Marvel" comics I read...

    by stones_throw

    ...were after I had read very few comics for a few years. Previously I had been enjoying Busiek and Perez's AVENGERS, Alan Moore's ABC line etc. When I picked up some Bendis ULTIMATE stuff and Aguirre-Sacasa's MARVEL KNIGHTS 4 I seriously had to count and check that they hadn't reduced the number of pages. Do I think that the decompressed style is a bold innovation and that Bendis and co. were pioneering new ways of telling comics? No; it mostly comes off as laziness (in wishing to pad out a sub-par story to six issues and in not giving the time and effort to come up with a better story worth six issues. Would a mediocre film be improved by an extra hour on the running time?) <p>I don't see the Bendis school doing anything very radical with narrative or form -- how their comics are actually told. If that's being done at all, it's being done by writer-artist guys like Darwyn Cooke or Kyle Baker and by Alan Moore and his collaborators.<p>Would the Stan Lee style work today? No, unless you were doing it for parody like Moore's 1963. But I think any storytelling or visual genius in those early Marvel comics has to be attributed to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko; Stan Lee's genius was as an editor and businessman in knowing what would hit and how to put it together.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 2:03 a.m. CST

    I agree with Ape and Stones Throw

    by Starship Captain

    Ape's two points are correct. The only thing that's evolved in comics is their production since the artistic side (writing & drawing) will always be in the eye of the beholder. Optimus even cuts into his own argument by admitting there isn't one Bible or standard definition for a comic. If that's true, then why should his opinion be any more valid than Ape's?<p>Ape is also right that it's lazy reviewing to take a dig at a classic creator like Lee just to prop up a different creator like Bendis because he's your pet fave. Optimus may be correct that Bendis is currently hot and no one writes in a Lee-like style these days, but Ape is more right that in the larger picture and the passage of time, we won't be talking about Bendis, but fans will still be looking at Lee's work because it was so historic and seminal to the medium.<p>That's why I agree with Stones Throw too. Bendis and company haven't done anything radical to the art form. He's right that padding a comic doesn't make it better storytelling, it just makes it more padded.<p>And Optimus saying that comics have evolved because "I like the fucking french fries...more money, more panels, more time can go into developing the story" is silly. That's like arguing television has evolved because TVs have gone from being 4x3 sets with tubes to being expensive 16x9 plasma widescreens. Just because they changed the physical look of your TV doesn't mean you're getting a better show.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 7:50 a.m. CST

    Star...Stone...Lee...Bendis

    by optimous_douche

    My opinion isn't anymore valid than Ape's. Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one and more often than not they stink.<p> But this is the sole purpose of the Internet, for people to debate subjective non-quantifiable topics. I never said Fuck Stan Lee, but Ape did tell me to fuck myself...I never make it personal.<p> All right first on the prop up -- I wasn't trying to "prop-up" Bendis on Lee's shoulders. I was merely trying to uncover (and I guess I did it poorly) why there is such hatred of a guy like Bendis by a certain part of the population, yet an over arching collected love of Lee.<p> His ideas? Ok, yes the man's ideas were great, but hell we're not willing to give him full credit for those ideas with the endless Ditko debates like Stone mentioned. Next then, business acumen and marketing. OK, I'm sold on that, he made himself a brand and he made the Marvel brand.<p> But his writing is horrible and can only be used in parody today as Stone said. I truly can not sit and read a Stan Lee comic from cover-to-cover...I never could...even when I went back and bought all of the old Uncanny's I was missing, I bought them for a sense of completion, not a joy of reading (only title I ever did that with BTW). Call it lazy...call it stupid...but the writing is different today...you have to look at each DRAWN panel and realize teh writer is telling the artist to place that panel there. Very different than how Stan put together a book...hmmm...change...difference...evolution... And Stone I agree, he's not doing anything radical with narrative, but it is different than what we had years ago. Now if you hate that fine, but it is an evolution...it's not what it was. I think this argument now boils down to how you view "evolution." Each of my detractors have mentioned that things have changed...Uhmmm...isn't change evolution? And to Starship's argument, yes the bigger screens and better pictures have absolutely changed the story-telling value of TV. Look at a show from the 1960s and look at a show today, you want to tell me there is no difference? Production, script writing, shooting...all different.<p> hey if you want to get really particular and nuanced here...there haven't been any new stories since the Greeks and Romans. Merely a few variations on those themes...and yeah that includes Stan as well.<p> End of story Ape was not out of line to argue, but his delivery is truly that of a Big Dump Ape...Thank you Stone and Star for the civil discourse, it's been fun.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Bendis vs Lee round 4

    by KletusCassidy

    This is an interesting topic and i'd like to put my two cents in; First off to say that comics have not evolved is definitely not true, And to say Bendis is not the evolution of comics is also not true. ANY writer today is basically the showing the "evolution" of comics and whats being done at Marvel now IS an evolution of ideas that were introduced by Stan Lee and others (I'm not saying saying that Kirby or Ditko didn't have anything to because they did but we're talking about Stan Lee). Every art form of a medium such as this evolves but you can't take away the fact that a lot of these characters and the way comics are made even today was vastly helped by Stan Lee (and others) and yes his writing doesn't hold up today but who cares because his creations do and now there are multimillion dollar movies as well as a multimillion dollar comic company based on things that Stan Lee had a very very large part in, so modern day Jesus no, but one of the biggest pioneers in comic book history, most definitely. Think about it this way if you look at early DJs from the 80's and the things they were doing compared to the things DJs doing now, those old DJs look like shit in modern times but what they did in the 80's was fucking groundbreaking and DJs now are expanding and "evolving" the art of DJing to this day, and its the same way with comic books, someone (Bendis) building on ideas that Stan Lee was a large part of. The only reason Stan Lee didn't take three issues to explain an origin story is because he didn't have the luxury of knowing that his comic would make it to three issues, there was no guarantee for long term stability. If Grandmixer DST (look it up) came to my friend Rob's house and showed his off his DJ skills now he would look weak as hell compared to the shit my friend could do but you know what....my friend may not ever have learned to DJ with out the contributions made by Grandmixer DST and others. Also all the skills and techniques Rob could do are based on tools that Grandmixer DST and others have created. These tools weren't available for guys like Stan Lee and Grandmixer DST, they had to learn all this stuff themselves, again not that there weren't others out there DJing or writing comics but the fact is that these guys moved things along in these fields in ways that had not previously been done. So yes Stan Lee's shit is definitely not the best stuff in on the comic book shelves but if i get to meet him i probably wouldn't judge him based on things he's written in the past 20 or so years because he was putting out shit for 40+ years that has probably inspired like 80% of the comic writers today. Hope i didn't offend either one of you but i had to chime in. Both of you guys are right just in different ways.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 9:35 a.m. CST

    NEONOMICON #2

    by Laserhead

    That was my first 'Holy Shit' moment in a comic book in... maybe forever. The most disturbing piece of comics horror I've ever read, I think, and without gore. Alan Moore's doing something very, very fucked up.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 10:22 a.m. CST

    Laserhead...

    by KletusCassidy

    Wow...that's really all i can say right now....very fucked up indeed. I felt weird reading it at work but i couldn't put it down...the next issue is gonna be wild. I knew once the she took her contacts out shit was gonna hit the fan but DAMN!

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 10:31 a.m. CST

    Bendis is the most electrifying figure in comics entertainment t

    by Joenathan

    Just the mere mention of the man takes over the TB. I mean, all this one has been about is Bendis and how much Wonder Woman sucks ass. This is the Bendis era of comics... otherwise known as the most successful era of comics...

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Kletus

    by Laserhead

    I felt weird reading it, too. When I got to the last several pages, I found myself looking over my shoulder left and right, seeing if anybody could see what I was reading. That she had her contacts out and saw everything as a blur only added to the horror. Hell of a fucked up scene.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 11:06 a.m. CST

    THANK YOU KLETUS

    by optimous_douche

    (said in a Sally Fields voice)You get me...you really get me...<p> And for the record, I don't negate how Ape feels...he just delivers it like a cocktaint

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 11:07 a.m. CST

    It's actually the Morrison era of comics

    by Laserhead

    Has been for over 20 years.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Ahhh now there's a debate Mor vs Ben

    by optimous_douche

    Two very distinct styles there.<p> Morrison: Heady trippy definitely more angst and a darker tone.<p> Bendis: Lighter, far more sitcom in delivery and tone.<p> Who is better? Personally I see them as simply different, but an interesting topic to be sure.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 2:49 p.m. CST

    Hmmm...

    by Joenathan

    I do love me some Morrison, but I think if you look at the question of most commercial success and most amount of imitators, which leads to more influence in establishing the status quo, I'd still say this is the Bendis era. The man is WAAAAAY more mainstream than Morrison and that is undeniable and more mainstream means more commercial success which means more money which means winner. People will talk about Morrison's stuff in reverant terms for years, especially All Star Superman, but Bendis is the one who has put the biggest stamp on the industry sales and style wise and has extended himself into other medias more, as well.<br><br>The Bendis Age.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Stan Lee was an originator in multiple ways...

    by Homer Sexual

    I gotta give him credit for creating some great characters and a more "realistic" universe. I even enjoy(ed) some of the stuff he wrote, such as the FF/Galactus stories. <p> But he also originated the "creator becomes irrelevant and horrible" that we now see has happened to Claremont and Byrne, and apparently is happening to JMS. <p> Anything Stan has done in recent years reeks to high heaven. As others have said, it's dreadful... and I am pretty sure NO ONE thinks his re-maginings were good in any way. <p> But what really made me dislike Stan the Man was the "Who Wants to be a Super Hero" show. Not only was it terrible, it was fake (and I mean really fake, with actors rather than the normal level of fakeness and manipulation of reality TV), and Stan came off as a misogynist throwback. <p> However, and this has also been discussed, I doubt that anything Bendis has written will stand the test of time that Lee's old stuff has. Maybe his Daredevil run... <p> and BTW, JMS was bad enough on WW to get me to drop it after two issues of his writing, even faster than the 3 issues I gave Bendis' Avengers. <p> Why is Bendis' Avengers sooo terrible? I think because the art makes it even crappier. WW has at least ok art. <p> And BTW again, I think watching TV on big, HD screens actually does make the programs better than programs on old, small televisions. <p> Finally... I can get my non-comic-geek friends to read (and enjoy) some of Morrison's stuff, but not Bendis. Bendis' stuff appeals strictly to us fanboys.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 5:04 p.m. CST

    That's surprising

    by Joenathan

    I'd think Ultimate Spider-man and Alias would cross over.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 5:04 p.m. CST

    And Powers

    by Joenathan

    Were you using Non-superhero Morrison?

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 6:26 p.m. CST

    Comics Are Trendy. All These Guys Have

    by Buzz Maverik

    short shelf lives. Comics are mostly pop art, guys (don't say MAUS or anything like that because you know better). The Stan vs. Bendis thing is stupid and you know it. They may publish Stan Lee's This or That, but you're not going to see him doing mainstream, monthly AVENGERS any time soon. He mostly stopped writing when Marvel really took off.<p>Most of us are in comics for life. We're going to see 'em come and go. Comics are going to change (although good storytelling doesn't).<p>Marvel is brilliantly trendy and supremely pop, which is a great thing. The trendier and poppier the better, I say. Since we're talking writing, we go from Stan to Roy to Engelhart, Gerber, Conway, Wolfman, Wein, Mantlo, and the rise of Claremont, Byrne, Shooter,Miller, David, Gruenwald and Simonson.<p>Are you with me so far? I'm not just listing names. Some of these guys are still active today, but can they transcend their era.<p>We're seeing Busiek mostly on Dark Horse REH adaptations. More DCish, is Alan Moore still Alan Moore? Uh-uh. But that doesn't mean he never was. You name it, Waid, etc, their time passes.<p>Morrison's may be passing before our eyes. Or maybe not yet.<p>Yes, Bendis will be passe one day. Millar, oddly enough, may be the guy who makes it from comics to films. Maybe not. His comics will be passe one day.<p>Guys who really make it in comics have to write a lot. And fast and with confidence.<p>Bendis is admirably prolific. Yeah, Stan wouldn't see now, but Bendis wouldn't have sold in the '60s. In both their defenses, Stan wrote "Marvel style" which I can't even wrap my head around. At the most, he'd say, "Baron Zemo kidnaps Karen Page" and Gene Colan would say, "Why? And isn't Zemo dead?" And Stan would say, "You'll figure it out." Bendis writes full scripts, which I've always felt, prolific as he is (and put it back in yer pants, I think it's a good thing!) helped create the decompressed style. I like that he writes a lot of dialogue (when it works) and that he's experimented and that he keeps doing what he wants despite being overly praised and overly criticized.<p>So I like Bendis and I like Stan when their stuff works. And don't tell me Stan was never any good or that Bendis was never any good. You think they're good, then they're good.<p>Final trendiness thought: right now I'm reading the latest ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA. Jack Kirby's return to Marvel. Kirby was the king ... a king who couldn't write. What's worse, his beautiful, brilliant art was about 8 years behind mid-70s Marvel. You can look at the other stories written by Tony Isabella and the art by Frank Robbins (whom I hated as a kid because it was cartoony but now I love)and see it. But Tony was never the storyteller and creator Kirby was, and Frank was never the artist.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 6:50 p.m. CST

    Optimous is right -- I shouldn't have FUed him

    by Big Dumb Ape

    Optimous is right that everyone has an opinion, just like they have assholes. And I'll man up and say I shouldn't have FUed him for simply voicing his personal viewpoint, so in a nicer spirit of AICN geeky talkbacks, I sincerely apologize.<p>That said, I still disagree top to bottom with the arguments that you're making, Optimous. Starship Captain had the right analogy, so congrats to him. Just because you changed the manufacturing process and shape of TVs, that doesn't mean you're getting better shows to watch. Optimous said in one of his latest replies "And to Starship's argument, yes the bigger screens and better pictures have absolutely changed the story-telling value of TV. Look at a show from the 1960s and look at a show today, you want to tell me there is no difference? Production, script writing, shooting...all different."<p>But that's really not true. Again, those are only superficial things, and once again you're talking about the production end and how the final product looks. So, as I noted before, that's simply akin to publishing a comic on better paper with computer coloring, but that doesn't change the ACTUAL story and art that (as Starship also pointed out) create the heart and soul that went into it. Sure, it might LOOK a bit better...like a modern TV, it might be BROADCAST in a better digital image...but just because (BLEEP) MY FATHER SAYS is shown in HD doesn't make it better written or acted othan an old Sid Caesar comedy show from the classic era of TV, where things were produced on the fast and cheap. Same with comic writing and art. They didn't have the benefit of slick paper or computer coloring, but the Sunday strip works of Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), Burne Hogarth (Tarzan) and certainly Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon) from the Forties STILL kicks the ass and totally schools 99.999% of modern comic artists.<p>So, now I have to throw props back at Starship because he really nailed it. Changing the dimensions of a TV are just cosmetic, and it's a stretch to say that just because you changed a TV's dimensions that screenwriters are writing differently. Even if you wanted to make that case, speaking as someone who does work out here in Hollywood, I'd argue that's still more of a debate centered on ratings and budget, which is a whole other issue.<p>But as I said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I sincerely apologize for getting hot under the collar at Optimous, being an old time comic collector myself going back to the Sixties. He's right that I shouldn't have acted like a Big Ape and FUed him, since he's welcome to his personal opinions. I just think its nutty to even try and compare the genius of Stan Lee, in his prime and given what he gave to the industry, to someone like Bendis whose work I found boring and cookie cutter, when comparatively speaking he's likewise in his prime now. The debate about the "evolution of comics" aside, Bendis is a working writer making some good cash for what he does. But in terms of shining brilliantly like a sun in terms of sheer creativity, he's still no Lee. Least not in my eyes.

  • Oct. 8, 2010, 10:32 p.m. CST

    Thanks Ape

    by optimous_douche

    I appreciate the reply.<p> But I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree.<P> I see all of the changes that have happened to be far more than simple cosmetics.<p> Look at how Lee constantly broke the 4th wall, you see nary a whisper of that today...right true believers? I see that as an evolution. Everything is way more conversational because the art is so much better...the art evolved so the writing could evolve, I just do not believe it's an either or.<P> Who knows if any of these guys will be remembered 50 years from now. Lee or Bendis, but you're right that Lee does have a better shot.<p> I like new things over old, just sort of the way I'm wired. I started collecting when I came of age in the 80's. But I don't really pine for that time period. I truly believe that each artist exponentially builds off of the past generation.<p> Perhaps I will one day hit the wall, but not there yet.<p> Barbs aside -- great discourse this week kids.

  • Oct. 9, 2010, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Things Are More Conversational Today...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...because comics are read by adult men who spend most of their time on computers and have been so taught by society to hate their own maleness that they can barely stomach anything dynamic even in their fantasies, and when it does come out it's some over the top cruelty and violence.<p>FF # 1 came out in, what, 1961? That's barely 61 years after the Wild West, a period we're now supposed to feel guilty about. The target audience at the time had Dads who fought in WW II and Korea, and didn't hate themselves for it.<p>As Dennis Leary said, "We've got the bomb."<p>Which we're now suppose to feel bad about, except I grew up loving the Bomb because I was born in 1964 and Pa Maverik always said if not for the Bomb, he would have probably been killed taking the Japanese mainland.<p>Everybody has to talk about everything now. When I was in Junior High (what you call Middle School)if somebody fucked with you, you could punch him in the face and at most get a week of detention. Now, if there's a little push-me-shove-you, everybody is arrested. That's what kids are growing up under.<p>Also, comics are more conversational because the audience is becoming more static. The audience is guys ripe for Fight Club membership working the counters and cubicles. Comics have taken on a new storytelling paradigm, outside the classic Joseph Campbell's heroes journey. They can debate all issue about what they will do, when out collective unconsciousness says that Wolverine or Luke Cage or somebody should take the Quint/Mad Max role of Outsider and say, "I'll solve your problem for you. This is what you have to do for me ..." Then he'd just start DOING IT!<p>That's why a classic tale of a flawed hero, IRON MAN II, becomes a hit movie that I liked, while a more modern, deconstructionist tale like KICK ASS becomes a potential cult classic film, which I loved (best superhero movie I've seen since the original IRON MAN).<p>Finally, breaking the fourth wall couldn't be more IN. With "reality" TV and reality TV type shows like THE OFFICE, there is no fourth wall.

  • Oct. 9, 2010, 10:16 p.m. CST

    Speaking of Really Good Old Comics...

    by Buzz Maverik

    ...these are post-Stan written, but check out ESSENTIAL DAREDEVIL VOL 5. Once you get past the out-of-place Moon Dragon arc, Steve Gerber's writing really kicks in with some magnificent stories, usually drawn a late talented guy you never heard of named Bob Brown or Gene Colan.<p>People dismiss most pre-Miller DD, but if Miller didn't have that deceptively simple art style, only the old fans would remember him because there's a guy whose innovations aren't really holding up so well.<p>You ever get bored with comics, try sampling issues published in different eras from your own life time, just to see how the world has changed.

  • Oct. 10, 2010, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Morrison is Nas.

    by loodabagel

    Bendis is Jay-Z. Stan Lee is Grandmaster Flash. I have known non-comics people who enjoy Torso, but Grant Morrison is simply the COOLER character, so most people will gravitate towards him. Plus, he simply has a more diverse catalog. Even the superhero stories are usually bizarre enough for non-superhero fans. He's got counter-culture appeal and he gets into weird, philosophical shit. Bendis does superheroes and crime. That's about it. I think I was a little dissapointed by Scarlet because I was expecting something more original. One thing Bendis does excel at is the long run, which he does much better than Morrison.

  • Oct. 10, 2010, 10:13 p.m. CST

    50s art kicked ass. Check out this Basil Wolverton page.

    by loodabagel

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_feucQZtlh7w/TBUDRAUTz4I/AAAAAAAACes/UAsMluZFnc4/s1600/swamp1.JPG

  • Oct. 11, 2010, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Bendis & Stan Are Actually A Lot Alike

    by Buzz Maverik

    Guys who did something different with a genre and medium. Both are gifted at building a sense of community and inclusion.